What should you consider when buying a new computer

Photo of a new computer

We know lots of people struggle to know what they should consider before they buy a new computer. Whether it is a computer, laptop or tablet, at this time of year  it can be daunting. Hopefully the following questions may help.

Do you really need to buy a new computer?

We have lots of customers come to us saying that they need a new computer because their old one is slow. Often this is true, but equally often it is not the computer but their broadband connection. If it is the broadband connection then a new computer may be a false investment.

How can you tell? Is the computer slow ONLY when you are on the Internet. Or is it absolutely fine when you are viewing photographs on the computer, typing documents, etc.? If the answer is yes, then the problem may not be the computer but your broadband. See some tips on what to look for here https://technologytamed.com/wifi-too-slow/

Do you really need a computer, or will a tablet do?

Are you are only going to use the computer to browse the Internet, view photographs, communicate on social media and send e-mails? If so, then a tablet maybe a much cheaper option. Or do you want to edit and manipulate photographs, use Microsoft Office, home accounts packages, etc., etc? If so, then a computer may be better. We are also finding that people who have little experience of using computers are finding tablets a lot easier to manage.

Do you need a computer or a laptop?

Are you happy to use the computer in just one location? Or would you love the flexibility of being able to have it on your lap/the kitchen table/the garden or to take it away on holiday? There is no longer a significant price difference between computers and laptops now, so this is a personal choice.

Apple Mac versus Microsoft?

This is very much a personal choice. These are our observations.

Macs

  • The choice for those who want to be fashionable.
  • Definitely at the moment they are not so vulnerable to viruses, so if you have someone in the household who has cost you a lot of money in the past as they have dodgy surfing habits then this may be the option to chose
  • Easiest to set up and install new software, so good for people who have very little computer experience
  • Integration between iPhones, iPads, iCloud is exceptional
  • More expensive than Microsoft Windows computers. People often say Macs last longer than Windows computers and we agree that Macs are built very well. That said don’t compare a £1000 Mac with a £300 Windows computer! If you are going to pay £1000 for a Mac then compare it with a £1000 Windows computer
  • You may not be able to get your favourite software for Mac (this is less of a problem nowadays but should still be considered)
  • Macs have a very different user interface to Windows. Confident computer people rarely have a problem with this but people who are not confident with computers and are used to Windows may struggle

Microsoft Windows

  • The most popular choice which means there is a wider choice of software available and a wider choice of hardware, printers, etc.
  • Microsoft Windows computers are available cheaper so if budget is an issue this is the option you should consider first
  • You must use a good anti-virus software program. If you bank online and make lots of online purchases then ensure the software provides adequate protection for these (the majority of free anti-virus software programs do not)
  • Integration with Windows and Android devices and phones is possible – you are not restricted to Mac products, which can be more expensive
  • More people are familiar with installing software and hardware for Microsoft Windows so getting amateur and professional IT support is easier and less costly

Microsoft Windows 7 versus Microsoft Windows 8.1

For businesses the choice is simple – Windows 7. For home users though it is less straightforward. It really depends upon how you plan to use the computer.

  • The Windows 7 operating system is similar to Windows XP and Vista, so you will not need to put aside time to learn how it works
  • Windows 7 is available until 2014 but you do need to do some searching to track it down and you may not get such good financial deals as with Windows 8
    The thing many people hate about Windows 8 (and despite what is said it is only some people) is the metro tiles, charms, etc. These are brilliant if you love social media. The tiles stream updates from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites very well. So if you love to chat online then Windows 8 is well worth considering. The architecture of Windows 8 computers makes them faster than Windows 7. Most people will not notice the difference. You may if you like playing complex computer games, or editing and manipulating very large photographs. Then it is worth considering Windows 8.

Microsoft Windows Hardware Options

There are lots of manufacturers of Microsoft Windows computers, meaning there are lots of options. Too many if you don’t know a lot about computers. At the time of writing on 12th December 2013 here are my thoughts onwhat you should consider.

Processor:

Remember that you can normally upgrade memory (RAM), graphics cards, hard drive capacity, but it is a lot more difficult to upgrade a processor. So a good processor is worth the money. A dual-core (for example Intel i3) with 4 way multi-tasking is the very base entry for us. Wee prefer a quad-core (for example Intel i5, which is similar to i3 but delivers extra speed). We would almost never specify above a quad-core – only if you did an extreme amount of picture manipulation, used extremely complex gaming programs.

RAM/Memory:

This is the next most important part. Everything you do has to go through memory and the more you have the better. That said there is little point for most people in going above 6GB as few would use this and many motherboards cannot handle much more. 4GB is the minimum we like.

Hard Drive:

The key question is how much hard drive space are you likely to use. Most people don’t use 50 GB, let alone a Terabyte. It is photographs, videos, music and movies that take up the hard drive space. Check how much you are using now and use that as a basis. If you are only using 20GB then you really don’t need to pay extra for a high capacity hard drive. Solid State Drives (SSD) are available now. They are much quicker than traditional drives (so cost more), but they don’t have a lot of disk capacity – so it is a speed versus capacity decision.


If you would like help, we are offering a special fixed price for advising, installing and setting up a new home computer or laptop of £190, including VAT until 31st January 2014.

Rebecca Mansbridge
www.technologytamed.com
December 2013